Folkestone & Hythe District Council [previously Shepway] has failed to meet its annual housing requirement target for ten of the past fourteen years. This a 71% failure rate.
The Council need to meet the strict requirements laid down by central government for hundreds of new homes to be built in our district – a minimum of 738 new homes per year was required for the period 2019/20 to 2036/37.
Folkestone & Hythe’s SHMA (2017) recommended planning for an Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) of 633 new dwellings per year across the district. The Council’s SHMA also recommended an additional 139 affordable houses needed to be delivered each year to meet the needs of households in the district currently residing in unsuitable housing. But of course this need has NOT been met.
The Housing Delivery Test was introduced as a requirement for all Local Planning Authorities in the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) July 2018.
From September 2018 onwards, the Housing Delivery Need number needed for our district rose each years as per the chart above. It currently stands at 738 homes per year.
On 19th January 2021, the Government published the 2020 Housing Delivery Test [HDT] results for all Local Authorities across England. Folkestone & Hythe achieved 91% of its housing requirement for the period 2017/18 to 2019/20. This meant as the Council had failed to meet the 95% requirement, they were obliged to produce a Housing Delivery Action Plan, in July 2021, to assess the causes of underdelivery and identify actions to increase delivery in future years.
However, according to Cllr David Monk (Con) Leader of Folkestone & Hythe District Council, at Full Council on the 24th Nov, made it clear in a response to a supplementary question from Cllr Jackie Meade (Lab), the Housing Need Requirement will increase for the Folkestone & Hythe District, meaning more than 738 houses a year, will be required.
In the last fourteen years the Council has failed to hit their required target by 782 homes. Depending on one’s perspective this means less stress on the drinking water system, the waste system, GPs, Hospitals, Roads, etc. It means biodiversity was spared being replaced by the progress of concrete and bricks. It means green space was conserved, albeit temporarily in some cases.
However one could also see this as a loss of “affordable homes“; which the vast majority of the 782 to be built, were meant to be.
The Council’s Core Strategy Review [still not signed off by Planning Inspector], plans for 13,284 new homes over the period 2019/20 to 2036/37. This will provide for the minimum amount of new development required by national planning policy.
Folkestone & Hythe District Council however, believe they’ll be an increase in the annual average completion rate over the next five years (2020/21 to 2024/25), with 4,309 completions over this period. [If only the bookies were taking odds] That aside, is this perspective realistic given that Brexit, material shortages and labour shortages, plus Covid continue play havoc with the construction industry? We think there might well be a significant amount of optimisim bias, seen through rose tinted glasses, built into their expectations, of achieving their targets.
Yet as Cllr Monk makes clear, the council will be expected to deliver yet more houses than the 13,284 needed until 2036/37.
Let’s not forget the Stodmarsh Nutriuent issue is “affecting the construction of 33,000 to 50,000 homes per annum” being built across East Kent, and has already caused a backlog of 25,000 to 30,000 homes from being built, meaning targets across all East Kent Authorities will not be met for the foreseeable future.
So what is our Council’s answer to their persistent failure to meet their housing targets. Well yes it’s Otterpool Park. That £2.9bn pound project where the Council expect to make £193 million over the life time of the build of up to 10,000 homes. Lets not forget they have spent £53.2m [Gross] and set aiside £12.6m and not submitted a planning application [due by end of 2021 according to Andy Jarrett], nor built a single house since the project first came to light in Jan 2015.
The first phases at Otterpool, will the Council says
“supplement volume market housing elsewhere in the district and will be delivered through local housebuilders, a housing association and the build to rent sector, delivering for certain housing markets currently underprovided for.”
The Council believe that risk to the public purse and local ratepayers are all manageable. They also predict over the period 2024/25 – 2029/30 they’ll be a record number of completions, making up on any under-delivery in the first five years of the Core Startegy Plan period. After 2030/31, Otterpool is expected to be the main focus of delivery in the district, with completions between 500 – 550 dwellings per annum.
The Council’s forecasts suggest that continuation of an annualised requirement would mean the HDT would not be met until 2022/23 at the earliest; and the council would almost certainly face sanctions of an additional buffer being added to its 5-year housing land supply. However, 2022/23 is soon to be upon us, and we don’t not believe their forecasts reflect reality, given the current and continuing Covid situation.
Knowing they have failed to meet their HDT requires for ten out of fourteen years, gives us, and possibly you, little hope the council will meet them in the foreseeable future. The Council are, we believe wearing rose tinted glasses and full of optimisim bias, tinged with a good dash of hubris.
Let’s hope there continuing failure to meet their targets means we’ll keep green space, boidiversity and climate change to a minimum in our district. And let’s hope their continuing failure put’s less stress on the water in and out, the GP surgeries, Hospitals, roads and our environment, so each of us can continue to enjoy it, before the progress of concrete covers it over for good.
The Shepway Vox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime